News for North Texas
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Another Good Year For Health Savings Accounts

National enrollment in health savings accounts (HSAs) has reached nearly 15.5 million, and Texas is one of the states with the highest enrollment.

Since health savings accounts (HSAs) were authorized by congress ten years ago, they’ve been a hit with both employers and employees. The accounts, which are always paired with a high-deductible health plan, allow consumers to put away money for medical expenses without paying income tax on their savings.

A new report released by the health insurance lobby group America's Health Insurance Plans says growth has been particularly strong as employers embrace high-deductible health plans that include HSAs. The states with the highest enrollment are Illinois (903,000 enrollees), Texas (889,365 enrollees), California (808,019 enrollees), Ohio (686,616 enrollees),and Michigan (577,208 enrollees).

Even as they grow in popularity, HSAs have their limitations. As Michelle Andrews of Kaiser Health News reports, in order to get the tax advantages of a health savings account, the health plan it's linked to has to meet certain criteria. 

In 2013, for instance, an HSA-qualified plan has to have a deductible of at least $1,250 for single coverage and $2,500 for family coverage, and the maximum out-of-pocket limits can be no higher than $6,250 and $12,500, respectively, for single and family coverage.

Another limitation Andrews points outhas to do with paying for adult children's health care. Even though the Affordable Care Act allows parents to keep kids on their policies until the age of 26, parents cannot use funds from their HSA to pay for the child's care until after age 24. 

So before you choose to jump on the HSA bandwagon, make sure to review your options.

Lauren Silverman was the Health, Science & Technology reporter/blogger at KERA News. She was also the primary backup host for KERA’s Think and the statewide newsmagazine  Texas Standard. In 2016, Lauren was recognized as Texas Health Journalist of the Year by the Texas Medical Association. She was part of the Peabody Award-winning team that covered Ebola for NPR in 2014. She also hosted "Surviving Ebola," a special that won Best Long Documentary honors from the Public Radio News Directors Inc. (PRNDI). And she's won a number of regional awards, including an honorable mention for Edward R. Murrow award (for her project “The Broken Hip”), as well as the Texas Veterans Commission’s Excellence in Media Awards in the radio category.